PWC History

Our History

The Petaluma Woman’s Club (PWC) had its origins starting in 1895, and is immensely proud of its shared history with this scenic community we call home.   Our 1913 craftsman style building at 518 B Street was designed by prominent architect Brainerd Jones (who is credited with designing many significant buildings in Petaluma) and is landmarked as a Heritage Home.

Brainerd Jones drawing of PWC
PWC Clubhouse

PWC Then…

Before the turn of the twentieth century, as merchants and businessmen were developing Petaluma from village to town to city, women found time to congregate for social, educational or church-oriented activities. The women formed sewing circles, choral societies, and poetry and musical gatherings.

The oldest book of records found the Ladies’ Choral Society was later organized on January 10, 1895 as the Petaluma Woman’s Club.  Minutes from meetings state that that Mrs. Idabelle McNear, wife of a prominent Petaluma businessman, was our founder and President from 1895 to 1900.  In 1907, Mrs. Josie P. Hill donated a lot on Washington Street to PWC, which PWC improved as a children’s playground. The PWC then sold that lot in 1913 and the funds were used to purchase the Putnam lot on B Street for $3,000.  Club approval was received to borrow $4,000 to build the clubhouse.

The clubhouse was designed by famous local architect, Brainerd Jones, and it was contracted out for construction for a cost of $5,500.  PWC grew and developed during World War I with a focus on transferring properties, funding construction, and membership development.

Petaluma Historic places map
Petaluma's Historical Places lists Petaluma Woman's Club as Founding Mothers.

PWC often took positions on issues of the day.  During the Depression, the membership fell below its previous membership of over 300 members.  When PWC fiercely supported World War II, membership rebounded with several war efforts: a surgical dressing program had members producing 20,000 bandages a month; servicemen in the Petaluma area were treated to the Club’s hospitality; and PWC members became part of the “Skywatch” patrol, where two members watched for enemy aircraft from the rooftop of the Petaluma Hotel every evening.

After World War II, Club activities centered on minstrel shows, fashion shows and dinner dances.  A student Scholarship Program was started in 1956 and continues to this day.  In 1975, PWC celebrated its Diamond Jubilee.  Over the years, speakers and entertainment have varied from educators and civic leaders to performing arts programs.

In 1995, exactly one hundred years after Petaluma Woman’s Club was founded, Connie Mahoney, a long-time member and past president, was responsible for forming the Dinner Events. Women who were unable to meet for lunch due to work or child care, now had an opportunity to socialize, network and make new friends in the community.

(History excerpted from “Petaluma Woman’s Club, The First Hundred Years, 1895-1995” written by Lillian Powis, Published by Gleason Printing, Inc.)

PWC Now…

PWC has evolved into a social club with women of all ages and backgrounds. PWC strives to make its events interesting, exciting and fun.

PWC Lunch Events are held on the second Tuesday of the month and the Dinner Events are held the third Thursday for most months of the year.  Events include food, drink and entertainment/activity priced in the $25 to $30 range.

See more of our history through our media page.

PWC rents the clubhouse as event space, and holds fundraisers during the year to fund the scholarships for local high school graduates, and to restore and maintain our historic clubhouse.